More and more people are suffering from depression. The severity and symptoms are wide-ranging. Children and adolescents are also affected more frequently these days. Anyone who feels depressed or powerless over a longer period of time and can rule out physical causes - such as vitamin D3 deficiency - can be helped by antidepressants after consulting a doctor. The most important factor here is regularity of use.
In the case of physical complaints, it is usually easy enough to prescribe the right medication. With psychological problems, on the other hand, the path to the right medication can be a long one. This is because our brain is extremely complex and by no means as well researched as the rest of the human body.
Also, some people do not have good experiences with antidepressants. Possible side effects, such as high blood pressure, stomach problems or headaches, can be perceived as so burdensome that the antidepressants are soon discontinued. In addition, many patients are also concerned that this type of medication can quickly become addictive. Once the right antidepressant has been found, however, the quality of life can improve abruptly and sustainably.
What are antidepressants and how do they work?
Antidepressants are psychotropic drugs - the term used to describe medications used to treat mental illness. It is important to know that antidepressants do not have a stimulating or soporific effect, nor are they addictive. If one is in a depressive phase, some processes in the brain are not working as they should.
The messenger substances in the brain, which are responsible for communication between the nerve cells stored there, no longer work at the usual level. This is where antidepressants come in and try to remedy the resulting dysfunction and channel more neurotransmitters into the synaptic cleft. This area - the space between two communicating nerve cells - is important for the transmission of nerve impulses.
Antidepressants strengthen the transmitter substances serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. As a result, the nerve cells can communicate better with each other again. However, it can take several days to weeks before the depressive symptoms become less pronounced and a feeling of improvement sets in.
These antidepressants are commonly used:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which include, for example, the drugs fluvoxamine, fluoxetine, citalopram, and sertraline
- Selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNNRIs), which include, for example, duloxetine and venlafaxine
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), examples of which include amitryptiline as well as clomipramine
Treating depression in the long term
Once you have found the right medication and feel better, you should definitely not stop taking the antidepressants right away. Although this may seem tempting, it can soon lead to falling into the next depressive phase. It is recommended that treatment be continued for up to six months after recovery, after which the medication can be carefully phased out. This means taking smaller and smaller doses of it until you finally stop taking the medication altogether.
The following therapeutic measures can support the drug treatment:
- Light therapy: daily "light showers" increase serotonin levels
- Exercise therapy: all types of exercise can help strengthen mental health
- Healthy diet: omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids are important for the formation of neurotransmitters
Of course, these measures do not replace antidepressants, but they can help the body in the recovery process.
To take antidepressants regularly: the TOM app helps.
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